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4-H youth to engineer robotic solutions

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From page A10 | October 05, 2012 |

On Oct. 6, youth in El Dorado County 4-H will become scientists for the day during the fifth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). This annual event seeks to spark an early youth interest in science and future science careers, and to reclaim the nation’s position of leadership in scientific exploration. As part of 4-H NYSD, youth will participate in the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge: the 2012 National Science Experiment.

Designed by The Ohio State University Extension, this year’s experiment will introduce youth to robotic engineering concepts as they program an autonomous robot to clean up a simulated environmental spill. The 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge will demonstrate that by utilizing engineering principles, youth can have a positive impact on communities and ecosystems.

In El Dorado County 4-H members will enhance their engineering skills by assembling their own Eco-Bots and surface controls to manage an environmental clean-up. Youth will then test the interaction between the Eco-Bot’s design features and various surface control configurations to determine the most effective clean-up solution for the simulated spill.

“Our nation is falling behind other countries in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math,” said Tracy Celio of 4-H Youth Development. “However, participation in high-quality positive youth development programs like 4-H NYSD offers youth and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians.”

To combat a national shortage of young people pursuing science college majors and occupations, and to enhance the nation’s contribution to the sciences, 4-H National Youth Science Day demonstrates that science, engineering, math and technology are fun and attainable options for college degrees and future careers. Currently, more than five million young people across the nation participate in 4-H science, engineering, technology and applied math year-long programming.

“I participated in 4-H National Youth Science Experiment at the Ames Research Institute,” said Carlo McCallick, 9, of El Dorado County. “I learned how to make a robot that can clean up an oil spill and I got to make my own modifications to improve the experiment, the experiments are really cool! I can’t wait to teach other kids the 4-H Eco-Bot Challenge this year.”

This year the Eco Bot Challenge will be held at the El Dorado Hills Branch of the El Dorado County Public Library, located at 7455 Silva Valley Parkway El Dorado Hills. To reserve a space for your child, call 916-358-3500. The event will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Research has shown that participation in 4-H programs like 4-H NYSD makes a positive difference in the lives of youth. Youth development scholar, Dr. Richard Lerner, works with researchers at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University to conduct The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development. The longitudinal study has found that, when compared to other youth, young people involved in 4-H are:

• Two times more likely to get better grades in school;
• Two times more likely to plan to go to college;
• Nearly three times more likely to participate in science, engineering, or computer technology programs, and,
• Three times more likely to make positive contributions to their families and communities.

Overall, the study found that the advantages of 4-H participation include higher educational achievement and higher motivation for future education.

As part of the Cooperative Extension System of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and implemented by the nation’s 111 land-grant colleges and universities, 4-H has been educating youth in the sciences for more than 100 years. In fact, the land-grant colleges and universities have been deeply involved in environmental research for some time and will showcase their work to inspire youth around the nation on 4-H National Youth Science Day.

For more than 100 years, 4-H has been at the forefront of teaching youth about science, engineering and technology. Created to combat a shortage of American young people pursuing science college majors and careers, 4-H National Youth Science Day seeks to spark an early youth interest and leadership in science.

For more information on 4-H NYSD, visit 4-H.org/NYSD. Or, to find a 4-H youth development program near you, go to ucanr.org/sites/EDC_4-H_Program/?calitem=165457&g=47181.

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